The Future of Roman Catholicism in Scotland
The following piece, prepared by Dr D. R. MacSween, on behalf of the Religion and Morals Committee of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, has appeared in some Christian periodicals. We insert it here for those of our readers who have not had the opportunity to read it.
AN article published in the 16th of January, 1999 edition of the Scotsman newspaper reported some very audacious and provocative statements made by Cardinal Thomas Winning, the Head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, regarding the future of Roman Catholicism in Scotland. For example he argued that Roman Catholicism will be the sole faith in Scotland in the 21st century. He said: “The other Churches will have to accept bishops. There will be no movement in doctrine and no movement on the seven sacraments.”
The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, which has always witnessed strongly against the errors of Romanism, was referred to in the article in the most dismissive terms. The Religion and Morals Committee felt it to be a duty to respond to this article. We are sure that our response to the remarks of the cardinal will be of interest to Christian people throughout the United Kingdom who are deeply concerned about the growing influence of Roman Catholicism in so may areas of our national life.
We hold, with all true Protestants, that the doctrines of the Papacy such as the mass, the immaculate conception and assumption of Mary, her place as a mediatrix, the doctrine of Purgatory, the confessional and the infallibility of the Pope when speaking ex cathedra are thoroughly unscriptural and do grave dishonour to the name and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. While acknowledging the eminence of Mary and the truth of her own testimony, “All generations shall call me blessed,” nowhere in the New Testament do we find a vestige of mediatorial function being ascribed to her. True Protestantism holds dearly the doctrine of the sole mediatorship of the Lord Jesus Christ. “There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). As Protestants we hold that, according to the Word of God, there are only two sacraments, Baptism and the Lords Supper, not seven as the cardinal would have us believe. The Bible, which is the final court of appeal in deciding all doctrinal issues, nowhere mentions the priestly office as applicable in the New Testament Church. The one priest is the Great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom Paul speaks so eloquently and definitively when he says: “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession” (Hebrews 4:14).
The Roman Catholic Church is now boldly proclaiming its aim to dominate the religious life of Scotland and to obliterate the Scripture-based testimony of the Protestantism of the Reformation, judging by the imperious tones of the statements attributed to Cardinal Winning in the article referred to above.
One cannot but call to mind the reasons which dictated our forefathers to include in the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement the statement: “It has been found by experience that it is inconsistent with the safety and welfare of this Protestant Kingdom to be governed by a Popish Prince or by any King or Queen marrying a Papist” These are the words of men who loved liberty and loved their country and who desired to warn, as well as to secure, succeeding generations against the evils which they had suffered in their own day under Romanism.
On the question of liberty in the light of the Reformation it has been said that Protestantism came forth unfurling to the eyes of the nations the flag of true liberty and that all who would be free must gather around that flag. Where is the concept of liberty to be found in Cardinal Winnings statement which would bind the united church of his imagination to the demonstrably unscriptural doctrines referred to above? Four centuries ago contenders for Protestantism protested that, “God speaking in His Word, and not Rome speaking through her priests, is the Supreme Law of the Human Race.”
Sad to say, the Scottish nation has, to a large extent, criticised, maligned and, at best, misunderstood our courageous, God honouring forefathers, such as John Knox, Andrew Melville and Alexander Henderson, to name but a few, who earnestly contended for “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). Perhaps because he knows this to be the case, the cardinal thinks the time is ripe to begin his campaign to regain Scotland for the Church of Rome.
The popes call to the world to become a single family
AS we might expect, the pope is in favour of globalisation. The English Churchman reports that the pope, in his New Year message, warned against unthinking opposition to globalisation. “The pursuit of the common good of a single political community cannot be in conflict with the common good of humanity.” What political community would that be, and what part would Rome play in it? When Roman Catholicism is already an international religious-political institution, we can be sure that it will not take a back seat.
Opposition to such globalisation is by no means unthinking by those who know Romes political ambitions. Nothing short of world-wide dominion is her great and ultimate objective and pity those over whom she has power, if they do not submit. The same issue of the English Churchman notes that the Protestant stalwart, the late Mr J. A. Kensit, depicted Rome thus: “In inferiority as a lamb, in equality as a fox, and in superiority as a tiger”. How true!
But the Lord reigns and He will build His church. However much Rome grows, and proudly dismisses scriptural, Protestant churches, she is destined to be conquered. The gates of hell can never prevail against the church of Christ. The stone of Daniel 2:35, the emblem of the church of God, shall indeed become a great mountain and fill the whole earth.